Early Earth Day celebration a Vol State hit

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(Pictured: Earth Day chalk drawing near the Duffer Plaza.  Photo by: Shannon Feaganes.)

By: Shannon Feaganes, Web Editor

On Wednesday, April 20, Volunteer State Community College had an Earth Day event in the Duffer Plaza from 11 – 2 p.m. Team Change sponsored the event.

There were booths set up around the plaza, and at each booth attendees were given a ticket. After an attendee had collected three tickets, they could redeem them for a free lunch of pizza, punch and lemonade.

There was a sidewalk chalk booth, where attendees could draw on the plaza sidewalk. Team Change members had drawn a demonstration of various countries’ ecological footprints.

There was also an adopt-a-stream booth, which encouraged students, local businesses and organizations to adopt local streams, rivers and lakes to manage litter buildup.

Attendees mixed Hummingbird Mix Wildflower Blend with clay and fertilizer to create plant-able pods.

There were seed packets for attendees to take home, including marigolds, daisies and sunflower seeds. At the same booth was paper made from recycled notepaper and seeds. After the paper was used, it could be planted rather than thrown away.

The next booth encouraged students to take the sustainability pledge, which required the completion of at least four activities which reduce energy consumption, including turning off the light when the last person in the room leaves and unplugging/turning off electrical devices when not in use.

“We had more people than last year, and I think it’s because we were actually outside,” said Le-Ellen Dayhuff, Professor of Mathematics, “Over 100 people took the [sustainability] pledge this year.”

Campus police featured a cardboard box labeled “Drug Take Back.” Drug Take Back encouraged students to donate their unused and expired prescription medication to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office in Gallatin for incineration.

“We get 30 pounds of pills per month,” said Sergeant Keith Bean of the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office. “We incinerate them to keep them from contaminating the water supply and air.”

At 1p.m. the event featured speaker Jeff Barri from the Tennessee Environmental Council, who spoke about sustainability and the Council’s efforts to protect the environment, including the planting of 50,000 trees in Tennessee back in February.

“Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with technology,” said Barri, “We install coir logs, which are a form of biotechnology made from organic material that we install along the banks of rivers where it’s eroding. Most people don’t realize that erosion is actually a large contributor to water pollution.”

Towards the end of the event, Team Change provided over 100 free, small trees to students, including dogwood, redwood, pine, and oak.

Middle College students to graduate this semester

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Eleven Middle College High School students will graduate from Volunteer State Community College before they graduate from high school.

“They will graduate on May 7 from Vol State with associate degrees, and then they will graduate from high school on May 21,” said Betsy Hunter, a principal of MCHS.

This program started two years ago, so this is the first time for this to happen at Vol State.

“These are students that came to us as juniors in high school.

“They’ve taken everything on campus for the last four semesters like a regular college student,” said Hunter.

Sumner County has funded this program for these students.

“To be successful in the Middle College Program, students have to be self-starters.

“They have to be motivated to turn something in. We expect them to be in class every day,” added Hunter.

The Board of Education will be acknowledging these students on May 17 for their accomplishments, said Hunter.

“They are great kids. They’ve worked hard,” included Hunter.

Handicap access at Vol State

By: Shannon Feaganes, Web Editor

If you are not a handicapped student or do not have a family member or friend that is, you probably would not think twice as to whether a college campus has enough handicapped access.

If you park in parking lot N, adjacent to Caudill Hall and the Wood Campus Center at Volunteer State Community College, you might notice that there is no ramp in that parking lot whatsoever. In fact, there aren’t many ramps at Vol State in general.

Imagine that you are the assistant of someone bound to a wheelchair, and you park in that area. There is literally no way to get into Caudill or Wood from that parking lot because there is no ramp. You would have to walk all the way around to the front entrance.

And even if you had the foresight to try to park in the handicapped spots at the front entrance where a ramp is, you have to hope that they are not already taken by other handicapped students, due to a seemingly constant shortage of handicapped parking, and even just parking in general.

I heard that the parking area behind Thigpen Library is to be converted into a green space, so I contacted Will Newman, Senior Director of Plant Operations for Vol State.

“The Tennessee Board of Regents elected to turn the parking area north of the library into a green space to support a pedestrian friendly ‘walking campus,’” said Newman.

Newman assured me that the handicapped spots will be relocated to the north of the Pickel Field House, but my concern is that handicapped students or handicapped guests will have to walk even farther to enter the library from that side – and actually, so will other, able-bodied students.

A “walking campus” might be fine for an able-bodied student, but for students or guests who have trouble with mobility, getting around is very difficult. Being able to complete daily activities such as walking can quickly become a privilege that is out of reach for some of the physically disabled.

I have been told that Vol State is supposed to be making preparations to improve handicapped access in the future, but not in the way that I had hoped.

“As campus grows we plan to add more automatic doors as well as possibly a front ramp access for Ramer,” said Newman.

“Also, as the Master Planning Project takes shape, Plant Operations intends on ensuring accessible sidewalks and parking is addressed.”

“Our office typically gets about two or three accessibility complaints or concerns each year,” said Star Boe, Accommodation and Adaptive Technology Specialist at Vol State.

“We work to address the concern and remediate the issues. Additionally, the Disability Services staff works to proactively identify and address accessibility issues on campus.”

My question is, how would more automated doors and a ramp to the Ramer building remedy the issue with Thigpen parking? What does it do for students who need to park in parking lot N? Or near the library?

At this point, only time will tell if Vol State will become more handicapped-accessible.

Pioneer Pride Week a success

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College celebrated Pioneer Pride Week April 18 – 23, with on-campus activities and events.

Jewelry is Fun had a representative set up from April 18 – 19, in the Wood Hallway. The company sold accessories, books, school supplies and jewelries.

According to Diana Pemelton, Jewelry is Fun representative, all proceeds from the sale will go toward fundraising for children’s gifts on Christmas.

“Pioneer Pride Week has been successful so far. We had Jewelry Is Fun on Monday and Tuesday, and had good traffic throughout both days,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

According to the Jewelry is Fun website, the sale works with schools and corporations to help them raise money for a cause of their choice.

Coffee with the Prez was on April 20, in the Mary Nichols Dining Hall from 9 – 10 a.m., and a total of 20 people signed in for biscuits and coffee while Dr. Jerry Faulkner, President of Vol State, spoke with students at their tables.

“The cafeteria didn’t seem to be as busy at the 9 a.m. time slot. In the past, we have had it at 10 a.m. and it seems to do better,” said Sherrell.

Campus Spa was on April 19, in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Hall, and approximately 80 people attended for massages.

“As far as how significant the week is on campus I would say it’s significant, but I think we have some work to do to make it important across campus,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said Vol State has a lot more work to do in the future to make Pioneer Pride Week more prominent to the student population.

“We are working hard to instill some school spirit and promote our athletics.

We have flyers at all of the tables in the cafeteria and emails have went out to all students throughout the week regarding the events,” said Sherrell.

“The goal is that this week known as Pioneer Pride Week will catch on and become a tradition each spring semester to celebrate our baseball and softball teams,” Sherrell added.

 

Annual career fair a success

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(Pictured: Students and employers gather in the gymnasium for the event.  Photo by: Sam Walker.)

By: Sam Walker, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a Career Fair on April 20, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Pickel Field House Gymnasium. Local Business and recruitment tables were located throughout the gym to recruit students.

Each table varied with opportunities from profit, nonprofit, volunteer service, healthcare, private business and government jobs.

Many military and law enforcement branches were in attendance such as the Navy, National Guard Army, Army, and the Sumner County Sherriff’s department with tables with recruitment information.

With every table there were representatives to provide information to students about their respective companies. Free items like pens, cups, bumper stickers, and flyers accompanied them.

Cornhole was set up inthe back of the gymnasium by 88.5 WVCP, Volunteer States premier radio station.

Student Kris Hill was the gladiator chosen to run the cornhole competition and if and only if you defeated him could you receive a WVCP bumper sticker.

Hill commented, “I love the idea of it. There are a lot of local business that come in and it’s great if your looking for a job.”

There were also many organizations and companies that offered full-time positions. Student Sa’ed Husary said “WPGD-TV is pretty cool. It’s an open job that is good if you have a flexible schedule.”

A slideshow was presented to show the different companies and organizations present. Stationed next to the door of the gymnasium sat a student by the name of Tyler Fuller. who provided the entertainment for the event via grand piano.

Fuller said, “It’s been fun, very busy the whole time, it was pretty successful.”

So if your looking to get your name out there and see what life has to offer go to the next Vol State Career Fair.

Editorial: How distractions affect your life

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has faced a distraction, most likely several distractions, throughout his or her life. Whether it is as simple as a pleasant looking object or a troubling thought in the back of your mind, distractions are everywhere.

They can make college difficult as well.

Distractions cost us our ability to put 100 percent into everything we work on. When writing papers, we have a lingering want to check social media or watch YouTube videos of cats. When we try to study, the subtle “buzz!” of our cell phones is enough to ruin our focus.

Distractions are literally everywhere, often finding a way to pry us from our focus and ruin our ability to perform the task at hand.

Even now, I am struggling to write this editorial because of my buzzing phone and the sounds of television from the next room.

This leads us to wonder how we can possibly avoid a foe as formidable as the dreaded distraction. Something that seems so innocent at first, but has the destructive power to ruin our thought process entirely.

The key to fighting distractions is as simple as it is complicated. You fight a distraction by refusing to be distracted.

When you are writing that paper, remind yourself that the rest of the internet will be there later, but that deadline will hit fast. If you are studying for a huge test, remember that you can (and should) silence your phone so that it is not tempting you.

If you lack self-restraint, as I sometimes do, have a space away from your worst distractions. Leave the phone in another room, download an app to lock your computer down—save for that word document—and remind yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes our own minds work against us. We find ourselves stuck on some troubling or exciting thought in the back of our minds that keep us from giving full attention to our work.

We naturally wander from the tasks we need to finish, especially when we are bored or uninterested. However, once you focus and finish what you are doing, you will find that your stress is significantly lessened.

Do whatever works for you, whether it is simply ignoring your phone, finding a quiet place to work or even pushing yourself through to get finished.

Once you are able to finish your homework, projects, papers, and other assignments without the constant hassle of going between one thing and another, you will find that not only will your grades improve, but so will your overall attitude.

The next time you need to finish something, put the phone down and ignore social media because your future is a lot more important that texting or Twitter.

Vol State to host collaborative Spring Choral Concert

FOR MUSIC (1)

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting its annual spring choral concert April 24 at 3:00 p.m.

The event is free and will be held on the main campus in the Wemyss Auditorium, located in Caudill Hall.

This year’s event is titled “And This Shall Be for Music” and features the Vol State Singers, directed by Nancy Slaughter, and the Portland High School Ensemble, directed by Ben Warren.

Music will be performed by Ben Troxler (piano); Yvonne Kendall (flute, piccolo, recorder); Mingzhe Wang (recorder); Mitsutoshi Inaba (recorder); Nancy Slaughter (recorder); and Derek Greene (percussion).

Since the production is being recorded, the event is not suitable for children under 12-years-old.

For the past five years, Slaughter has played for Portland High School’s musicals.

She said she approached Warren with the idea for this collaboration and he too thought it was a good idea.

“The Portland High School students are a very nice group of kids,” said Slaughter.

“They work very hard and are really quite lovely and smart.

“Mr. Warren is wonderful to work with, because he and I think the same way musically,” added Slaughter. “He’s very good at what he does.”

This is the second year that the two groups have come together. Slaughter said that last year’s concert was a success.

“Our goal for next year is to add a third and/or fourth high school, so we’d like to get Gallatin and Hendersonville.

“We are starting it out to try to get people to join us so we can do major works, maybe with a string quartet or a small orchestra,” added Slaughter.

The two singing groups will sing six pieces together, the Vol State Singers will sing five separate pieces, the recorder consort will play three Renaissance pieces, and the PHS Ensemble will sing two separate pieces.

“Most of the concert is in English. There will be two songs in Italian.

“Some are from the Renaissance, Baroque and some are written by contemporary composers—so they’re modern,” included Slaughter.

Slaughter said that she was letting the students have a break on Monday (a reward for their hard work and dedication) because they were already prepared and ready for the concert.

Then, they will run through it on Wednesday and have the dress rehearsal on Saturday.

Warren said that the Portland students have been getting ready for this since January.

“One of the biggest challenges is that my ensemble singers, coming into January have not sung together as a whole unit, so in addition to learning the concert repertoire—we have to build a quality choral tone and blend,” added Warren.

Warren said that he and Slaughter will each conduct a few pieces.

“This gives her students the opportunity to sing under me, and my students the opportunity to sing under her.

“We each bring differing approaches to singing and choral directing, and it’s valuable for students of all ages and mastery level to have exposure to that,” included Warren.

He said that the PHS students are excited about this opportunity at Vol State.

“One of my primary goals, since taking over as choral director at Portland High School four years ago, is putting my students out in the community to serve as ambassadors for PHS,” included Warren.

“I want people to see that not only do we have great performing talent here, but we also have excellent student citizens.

“Nancy Slaughter and I are thrilled to collaborate and create a unique bridge between our students coming out of PHS and Vol State, and hope to expand our endeavor to more Sumner County high schools in the future,” added Warren.

Warren and Slaughter have the same ideals and goals for this purpose.

“I’d like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Vol State for hosting this event,” said Warren.

“There are great things happening in Sumner County schools in cooperation with Vol State and their higher education resources.

“Music education is very strong in Sumner County and we aspire to keep it so, while producing high caliber young musicians,” added Warren.

Kat Lambert, a student in the Vol State Singers, said she enjoys this collaboration because of the people that are involved in it.

“Everyone in the group is so encouraging, and kind. We all work the entire semester to achieve our goal to sound good as a whole group,” Lambert said.

“People should come [to the concert] because it shows support for our music department, but it also exposes people to different styles of music.

“It really gives you an appreciation for how difficult the classical genre is,” said Lambert.